Open, trustworthy decision making
The single biggest problem for integrity in Australia is diminishing public trust that decision making is fair, honest and free of undue influence.
In politics and bureaucracies alike, some of Australia’s ways of ensuring trustworthy decision making remain world leading – but many are failing to keep pace with public concern and demographic and economic change.
Even as overall citizen confidence in competence of government rose with Australia’s COVID-19 response, so too public concern continued to grow over the size of corruption as a problem in government.
Australia’s federal parliamentarians, and Western Australia’s upper house, are currently the only types of public officials without any code of conduct. Mechanisms for transparency and fairness in dealings with decision-makers – especially through professional lobbying – remain weak, cumbersome and unenforced.
Success relies on simpler, more consistent rules for all; independent advice; openness; and enforced regulations that provide clarity and certainty to decision making. Supported by greater trust and reduced “gaming” of the ethical systems by those seeking to influence government, public decision making can be more “scandal-free”, confident and responsive in challenging times.